Chao calls on transport industry to ‘put the brakes on human trafficking’
January 30, 2020
•Land Line Staff
The U.S. Department of Transportation is urging transportation industry leaders to pledge to educate employees and the public to help end human trafficking, and is providing $5.4 million in grant funding to help achieve that goal.
On Tuesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced a series of efforts to combat human trafficking in the transportation sector. Chao was joined by leaders from Congress, state governments, and the transportation industry responding to this call to action.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation is committed to working with our public and private partners to fight human trafficking on America’s transportation system,” Chao said in a statement announcing the agency’s intention to “Put The Brakes On Human Trafficking.”
Among the initiatives announced Tuesday is a renewed focus on the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking pledge to train the transportation workforce and raise public awareness of trafficking across all modes of transportation. Chao said that over 250 pledges have been signed by every mode of transportation and that she is challenging the industry to commit to 100 pledges in 100 days. The Department anticipates more than 1 million employees across all modes of transportation will be trained because of this initiative.
Kendis Paris, executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking, attended Tuesday’s event in Washington D.C.
“It was a great honor speaking alongside Secretary Chao in support of the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking’s 100 pledges in 100 days call to action,” Paris said in an email to Land Line. “TAT has signed this pledge and urges all private and public transportation stakeholders to bring their resources to bear in combating this heinous crime.”
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, affecting millions of adults and children in the United States and worldwide. Victims are of every age, race, gender, background, citizenship, and immigration status. Some are trafficked within their own communities on various forms of transportation, while others are transported to new locations.
The DOT has also offered an annual $50,000 award to incentivize individuals and entities, including nongovernmental organizations, transportation industry associations, research institutions, and state and local government organizations, to think creatively in developing innovative solutions to combat the issue in the transportation industry. The department will review applications and determine the individual or entity that will most effectively use these funds to combat human trafficking.
In addition, 24 organizations will receive funding from a $5.4 million grant through the Federal Transit Administration’s Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative for projects to help prevent human trafficking and other crimes on public transportation. A list of the selected projects is available here.
To support the Department’s counter-trafficking efforts, the DOT Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking completed a report in July 2019 that recommends actions the Department can take to help combat human trafficking and best practices for states and local transportation stakeholders.